23 February, 2024

12 ways to bring customers into your retail store

With the rise of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar stores have seen a resurgence.  After reaching its highest point in April 2020, monthly e-commerce sales had dropped 12% by October 2023, while in-store sales increased by almost 3%. Experts predict that 72% of retail sales will occur in brick-and-mortar stores in 2024. While these statistics are promising for the future of retail, optimizing your business to attract customers is still more important than ever. 

Knowing how to attract customers to your store is critical in 2024. To continue growing your business, you need a strategy to keep a steady flow of new customers.

From freshening up your shop’s curb appeal to adding retail inventory management software, here are some of the best ways to increase foot traffic in retail. 

1. Enhance your curb appeal

Like any relationship, a positive first impression can go a long way. Get off on the right foot with your customers by making sure your business is reflected well in its curb appeal. A visually appealing storefront can significantly improve foot traffic and encourage customers who wouldn’t have otherwise stopped in to explore your offerings. Here are some ideas to spruce up the outside of your store:

  • Craft eye-catching signage: Invest in clear and attractive signage that reflects your brand identity so customers can easily identify and remember your store.
  • Keep a well-maintained exterior: You don’t want your customers’ first impression to be smudged windows or an overflowing trash can. Ensure the outside of your store is regularly cleaned, including windows, doors, and sidewalks. 
  • Invest in landscaping: Plants and flowers can add a touch of vibrancy and warmth to an otherwise impersonal and cold storefront. 
  • Post clear parking signage: Depending on the location of your store, confusion about where to park can be a deterrent. Adequate parking information helps create a hassle-free experience for customers.
  • Create window displays: Design engaging and seasonally relevant window displays that showcase your products. Done right, you can entice passersby to stop and take a closer look.
  • Offer comfortable seating: If space allows, consider adding seating outside your store. It provides a welcoming space for customers to rest, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

2. Improve store layout

An effective store layout is essential to keeping customers in your retail shop for longer. According to Shopify, the threshold area is the first space the customers will step into upon arriving at your store, so you need to make sure this area stands out the most in terms of lighting, display, and color.

It’s also a known theory in retail that most customers will subconsciously turn to the right when entering a store, meaning this section will have the most impact on their first impression and deserves extra attention when it comes to displays.

You should also create a walking path that leads customers through the whole store. This will allow them to view more of your products, increasing the chances that they will make a purchase. 

Bob Phibbs, or the Retail Doctor, also suggests minimizing store counters as they are often seen as psychologically separating the store owner or sales clerk from customers. This tends to create an “us vs. them” mentality and sends the wrong signals. The employees should be walking the floor to make your store feel less intimidating, more welcoming, livelier, and packed.

graphic showing grid, loop, and free-flow layouts

Best retail store layout designs

The effectiveness of a retail store layout depends on factors like the type of products sold, the store’s target audience, and overall brand strategy. Here are a few layout examples: 

  • Grid: This is a straightforward, organized option where aisles are arranged in a grid pattern. Shelves and displays are aligned parallel to one another so customers can easily navigate the store. This layout is often used in grocery and convenience stores offering a wide variety of products.
  • Loop/racetrack: This layout features a main aisle that forms a loop or racetrack around the store. Secondary aisles branch off from the main loop to guide customers through the entire store and expose them to a variety of products. It’s commonly used in clothing and department stores to encourage customers to explore the whole store and increase the likelihood of impulse purchases.
  • Free-flow: This design is more open and less structured than other layouts. It creates distinct zones or sections within the store, each with its own theme or purpose. The goal is to allow for flexibility and creativity in showcasing products, which comes in handy for boutiques and specialty shops.

3. Elevate the environment

Have you ever been inside a store so welcoming and atmospheric that you lost track of time shopping? Taking the extra step to create an inviting space can make your store a place customers don’t want to leave. Try these tips for crafting an ambient environment:

  • Play music: Play some background music at an appropriate volume that complements the ambiance of your store and resonates with your target audience. It can also make the space feel less awkward and clinical.
  • Create immersive displays: Implement interactive displays that engage customers and provide a hands-on experience with your products. Product testers, touchscreens with more product information, or live demonstrations can add an innovative and enjoyable dimension to the shopping experience.
  • Use strategic lighting: Highlight key areas and products with high-quality lighting. Ambient lighting can also make an area seem cozier and help customers feel relaxed.
  • Embrace aromatics: Consider incorporating subtle, pleasant scents to create a sensory experience with a safe method like a diffuser, room spray, or wax melter. Be mindful that smells aren’t too strong for shoppers sensitive to fragrance. 
  • Provide comfortable furniture: Integrate seating areas within the store to encourage customers to relax and spend more time browsing. Seating also provides a space for companions to wait comfortably.
  • Plan activities for kids: Depending on the type of store, having some kid-friendly activities on hand can improve the shopping experience for little ones and their parents. Consider books or coloring sheets that are suitable for a range of ages and easy to clean up.

4. Reach customers online

One in four consumers won’t even consider shopping with a brand that doesn’t have a strong online presence.

A website is just the start. It’s essential to maintain your online presence by regularly posting on your social media accounts as well as updating your website. Interesting content, imagery, and exclusive deals will help you build a loyal following. 

Auckland fashion store Glamour Boutique created a way to bring online and in-store together by providing a FaceTime service for customers. With computers set up in their store, the staff can chat with customers face-to-face, show them the latest arrivals, and give them a more personalized shopping experience. Their customers love this feature, and as a result, Glamour Boutique also noticed a significant increase in sales and repeat business.

When you sell through multiple channels (online and brick-and-mortar), you may also find it helpful to have a solid inventory management system in place to stay organized. Multichannel inventory management doesn’t have to be complicated with the right tool. Cin7 is a great option for keeping track of multi-channel sales and handling inventory end-to-end.

Social media

Through various social media platforms, you can effectively communicate with your target audience, expand your reach, build brand awareness, and foster community engagement. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Highlight location tagging: Encourage customers to tag your location when they post about your store, creating a virtual map of satisfied customers. This increases your store’s visibility and serves as social proof to potential customers. 
  • Offer exclusive promotions: Offer special deals for your social media followers to incentivize online engagement and drive foot traffic to your store.
  • Encourage user-generated content: Share posts customers tag you in to encourage more people to share their experiences with your store and products. Reposting customer photos and reviews also creates a sense of community and authenticity, influencing others to check out your store.
  • Collaborate with influencers: Partner with local influencers or brand advocates who align with your target audience. They can showcase your products, share their in-store experiences, and introduce your brand to a wider audience.
  • Run interactive campaigns: Run interactive campaigns like polls, quizzes, giveaways, or challenges to engage your audience. This sparks interest and increases the likelihood of users sharing your content, which amplifies your reach.

Local SEO

Implementing local SEO (search engine optimization) is a key strategy for enhancing online visibility in your area. It optimizes your online presence so you’re more visible in local search results, making it easier for nearby customers to discover your store. To get started with local SEO, follow these steps: 

  1. Google My Business (GMB) optimization: Create and optimize your GMB listing with accurate information about your store, including your address, phone number, business hours, and categories. This will make your business appear in local searches and on Google Maps. 
  2. Local keyword research: Identify relevant local keywords that potential customers might use when searching for products similar to yours with a tool like Moz Keyword Explorer. Find ways to naturally weave these keywords into your website and GMB profile.
  3. Local citations: Create consistent business citations across online directories, review sites, and local business listings. Ensure your business name, address, and phone number is accurate across all platforms.
  4. Online reviews: Suggest customers leave reviews on your GMB profile and other relevant review sites. Positive reviews boost your local search rankings and build trust among potential customers.

5. Take customer service training seriously

Since your employees represent your shop’s image, they have to deliver outstanding customer service and professionalism.

This can be done by first building a relationship with your employees, developing a bond, listening to their suggestions, and possibly implementing an incentive reward for motivation. Satisfied employees are more likely to put in more effort while working and achieve noticeable results. A few more ideas include:

  • Create service standards: Clearly define and communicate service standards that align with your brand values to your employees. Emphasizing the importance of friendliness, product knowledge, and responsiveness can help create a more positive customer experience.
  • Practice role-playing exercises: Simulate various customer interactions during training to help employees practice handling different scenarios and enhance their communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills.
  • Offer product knowledge training: Ensure your staff has in-depth knowledge about the products you offer. This enables them to assist customers effectively, answer questions, and provide personalized recommendations.

Stellar customer service examples

Need some examples of businesses that have excellent customer service practices in place? Check out these brands and what they’re doing well: 

  • Trader Joe’s: This grocery store is known for its friendly and knowledgeable employees, accounting for its standing as the supermarket with the highest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score. They’re prepared to share recommendations and are generally enthusiastic about customers’ picks in the checkout line.
  • Chick-fil-A: This fast food restaurant is praised for its polite and attentive staff who consistently go the extra mile to make customers feel welcome. Their catchphrase, “my pleasure,” paired with fast and efficient service, communicates these brand values authentically.
  • Disney: From referring to customers as “guests” to finding small ways to delight, Disney goes above and beyond in customer service. It prioritizes hiring friendly, enthusiastic people who go out of their way to deliver positive experiences. 

6. Offer in-store-only sales and promotions

Customers can be easily swayed by that sense of urgency that comes with limited-time offers and sales. Consider these tips for your next in-store-only deal:

  • Send email promotions: Start by contacting your customer database through an email newsletter informing them of upcoming sales and other events they might be interested in. 
  • Use the color red: Ever wonder why the color red is always used for sale signs? According to Shopify, people tend to react faster when they see the color red because it’s programmed in our minds as a cue for danger. This is why retailers use this color to grab customers’ attention.

Lean into a strong CTA: A case study was done by the team at ConversionXL, which showed that by adding a bit of urgency to their offers, they were able to increase sales by 332%. A call to action (CTA) with language like “Act now” or “Buy now” can be highly effective.

7. Start a customer loyalty program

Customers need to feel valued and appreciated so they’ll become loyal customers of your company. Christopher Barnard, president and co-founder of Points, says loyalty programs are key to drawing in repeat customers.

Not only will customers feel like they’re part of an exclusive group, but they’ll also receive an opportunity to save money. Ideally, this will keep them continuously purchasing at your retail store. 

An easy way to implement this is with a point of sale (POS) system that offers loyalty programs. It allows you to designate rewards for every purchase with increased efficiency while providing you with shopping data you can use to further personalize the customer’s shopping experience.

8. Create personalized customer experiences

Crafting personalized customer experiences fosters a sense of individualized attention and connection. Utilizing one of the best POS systems for small businesses plays a pivotal role in this process. A modern POS system can track buying patterns by capturing and analyzing transaction data. With this information, you can identify popular products, peak shopping times, and individual preferences.

You can also more effectively market to your customers based on this data. For example, if you learn a certain demographic of customers is more likely to buy a certain product, you can push targeted ads or sales to them.

By tailoring your offerings and promotions based on buying patterns and customer preferences, you demonstrate a keen understanding of your clientele, enhancing their overall experience.

9. Make your store a community

Transforming your store into a community hub can create a sense of belonging and foster customer loyalty. It allows you to go beyond transactional interactions and create another draw to bring customers into your store. Here are some ideas to build meaningful relationships with your customers:

  • Plan in-store events: Organize regular events like product launches, workshops, or themed gatherings to bring people together. You could offer specific promotions surrounding the event and get new people in the store by encouraging regular customers to bring a friend.
  • Introduce a café as part of your store: While it’s an investment, creating a café or restaurant within your store transforms it into a social hub, encouraging customers to spend more time in the space. 
  • Make your store pet-friendly: A pet-friendly policy makes your store more inclusive, attracting pet owners who want places to shop with their furry companions. 

10. Use a retail inventory management system

If you run a brick-and-mortar store or are an online retailer, reliable and efficient inventory management software is critical to the success of your business. It can help you easily track all inventory activity, avoid costly errors, and stay well-organized. 

To ensure inventory operations run in the most productive way possible, most online merchants opt for powerful retail inventory management software. This technology optimizes your store’s operations by ensuring accurate stock levels, minimizing errors, and streamlining the checkout process. 

With real-time visibility into inventory, customers are less likely to encounter stockouts. Plus, an efficient inventory management system enables your store to offer diverse product selections so you can accommodate various preferences. 

By creating a smooth and reliable shopping experience, you retain existing customers and attract new ones who appreciate the convenience, reliability, and positive experiences associated with a well-managed retail space.

11. Engage with customers

Fostering genuine connections with your customers will not only keep customers coming back but can also draw new ones in through word of mouth and increased brand visibility. Here are some ideas to effectively engage with customers:

  • Have 1v1 interactions: Find opportunities for valuable interactions with customers, like personalized assistance, style consultations, product demonstrations, and other VIP treatment experiences.
  • Collect their info: Ask customers at checkout for their email or phone number so you can send them personalized newsletters or text promotions. This ensures you can engage with them even when they’re not in-store.
  • Offer freebies: Who doesn’t like a free surprise thrown into their order? Finding small ways to delight your customers with freebies or other gifts creates a pleasant association with your business.

12. Collaborate with other businesses

Partnering with neighboring businesses for joint promotions or community initiatives can enhance your store’s integration within the local community and bring in new business. Check out these ideas to join forces with other shops in your area: 

  • Host a sidewalk sale: If your store is part of a strip or street of other vendors, organize a time to have a joint sale. The mass amount of deals will draw in extra foot traffic, and you’ll likely get new customers who are in the other area for other businesses’ deals.
  • Hand out flyers: Swap flyers or coupons for your store with other businesses to offer as a cross-promotion. This will expand your visibility and attract a broader audience.
  • Participate in local events: Community events that allow vendors can be a great way to find new customer demographics and network with other business owners in the area.

Graphic listing 12 ways to attract customers to your retail shop

Consider Cin7 for your retail inventory management needs

There are many ways to attract customers to your store, but if your business isn’t fully organized and prepared for more customers, it will be hard to retain them. 

A retail inventory management tool can streamline your business so you can focus more energy on the personalized experiences that make your store special, ensuring your customers receive the best experience possible. 

See how Cin7’s inventory management system can help bring more traffic to your store with a free trial.

Stop managing your inventory.
Start connecting it.